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Friday, September 30, 2016

INTERIOR WITH CARBON WINDOW TINT FILM FLANKED BY POWER'S INROADS

by Diane Raptosh



I'd been enjoying a duet
between the tufts

and driftless juttings
of the outer world

and a show
of images within,

waiting behind a line
of cars at the On the Fly Gas Station,

when finally it was my turn
to drift from my Corolla

and press
the levered nozzle

in its sugar hole.
I had found

beside my right
front tire, going

slightly bald, a 1978 dime,
one red plastic fork tine,

and a thinning globule
of car oil.

I had gone back,
momentarily,

to my final year
in high school

when my father was alive
and the future

floated like a set
of scare quotes.

The washing wand
worked its several rows—

sponged the windshield,
sluiced the rearview—

and I crooned some Gordon Lightfoot
in my father's honor.

When it was time
to pay, I stepped inside

the station, humming
a bar from Carefree Highway.

The TV-Adam's apple
troughed and peaked,

repeating state truths.
"True words end;

lies extend," suggested
that East African proverb

I had stored in a distant chink
in Mind's glove compartment.

I cranked up
the radio: Beyoncé's

placed on vocal rest
to mark her birthday.

Warplanes drop
chlorine bombs on Aleppo.

Today the Tao
has muscled up 35 points.



Diane Raptosh's fourth book of poetry American Amnesiac (Etruscan Press) was longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award and was a finalist for the Housatonic Book Award. The recipient of three fellowships in literature from the Idaho Commission on the Arts, she served as the Boise Poet Laureate (2013) as well as the Idaho Writer-in-Residence (2013-2016). She teaches writing and directs the program in Criminal Justice Studies at The College of Idaho.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

WE WORKERS

by Thomas Piekarski


The south wall of Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry mural in the Detroit Institute of Arts. 


We are the workers who build the ships that police
vast oceans shared by squid, plankton and blue whales.
We’re workers autonomous in our uniforms swayed
by the motion of constellations gradual in their effect.
We’re black men without pensions to rely on gathered
in front of the convenience store with lottery tickets
tucked in our pockets. We’re scantily clad waitresses
sexy at Hooters serving deep fried appetizers for lunch.
In Chicago, Pensacola, Albuquerque and Minneapolis
we’re taxi drivers and plumbers rising and stretching
to get a jump on dawn, twisting out kinks in our backs.
We’re money-laundering Wall Street financial kingpins
whose losses that add to the national debt are reimbursed
by smug congressional scallywags. We’re the Mexicans
who labor in Salinas fields planting and picking crops
and go home to wives and kids existing mostly on beans.
We’re security personnel, and we demand you remove
your shoes, pass them through bomb detection scanners.
We change your oil down in the pits beneath engines,
and though our hands ache your car will run smoothly.
Is anything as tender as the steak cooked so invitingly
on a hot teppan grill by the immigrant Japanese chef?
Note the greeter at Walmart’s entrance slurring words
as he rolls his wheelchair back and forth, quite cheerful.
We’re doctors performing abortions, pharmacists bottling
way overpriced drugs by the millions for hypochondriacs.
We are the workers, stoic, captivated by random winds,
the workers who adore HBO, smart phones and burgers.
We’re the workers whose marrow is sucked out of bones
born from the infant canyons and ravines of our planet.
We’re dreams that left European killing fields and chose
our own nation. We’re Stephen Foster’s children, Mark
Twain’s alter ego, Lincoln’s ghost, Sitting Bull’s blood.
We live in cleverly constructed boxes near workplaces.
We dedicated workers are well trained to forget problems,
check our attitudes at the door, produce at top efficiency.
We thrive on hysterical rhetoric that stirs our nationalism.
When the day’s work’s done we retreat to our televisions.


Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry and interviews have appeared widely in literary journals internationally, including Nimrod, Portland Review, Mandala Journal, Cream City Review, Poetry Salzburg, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Boston Poetry Magazine, and Poetry Quarterly. He has published a travel book, Best Choices In Northern California, and Time Lines, a book of poems.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

FALL LEAVES IN CHARLOTTE

by Ralph La Rosa


A memorial to Keith Scott in Sunday near where Scott was killed by police in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Emery P. Dalesio) —The Washington Post, September 26, 2016.


The brighter they are
the faster they fail.

The higher they are
the farther they fall.

The fewer they are
the faster they fall.

The darker they are
the fiercer they flame.


Ralph La Rosa's most recent book is Ghost Trees.

GUYS LIKE US

by Alan Walowitz



On April 28, 1973, a 10 year-old was executed on a street in South Jamaica, Queens. His name was Clifford Glover. He was walking with his step-father, when a car pulled up and out jumped 2 men with guns. Clifford and his father tried to run, fearing they were going to be robbed, but one of the gunmen fired. Before firing the fatal shot that would strike little Clifford in the back and take his life, the man yelled out, “You black son of a bitches!” The man  who killed Clifford was not a robber. He was a New York City police Officer by the name of Thomas Shea. --Black Main Street, July 22, 2016


I wasn’t exactly Teacher of the Year,
but classes were small and that limited the damage.
A lot of kids never came to school
except for lunch some days and always the last of the month
when free bus passes were handed out
—then there was Title One, LBJ’s bonanza
which could have made things more right—
except for guys like us.  No matter.
Our failures would lead to full employment in some jungle
where too many of these kids were headed—
so guys like us agreed to hunker down behind a desk
from 8 to 3 in this godforsaken neighborhood
to avoid a free tour ourselves and a tent in some rice paddy
by sending someone else’s kid in our place.
Still, some of us made sad jokes about our petty classroom trials:
At least in Nam they give you a gun,
we told each other at a bar after school,
or smoking weed way too far into a night
that would become dawn and a day
we’d slog through in shades as if it were the jungle,
our heads pounding, and handed out word searches, crosswords, and rebuses—
whatever it would take for guys like us to make it through.

It felt faraway this damage I inflicted.
till the morning Clifford Glover, age 10, was shot by a cop
when walking with his pop to work
through an empty lot just a mile away—
and then I knew the game was up.
George Mackie, that kid didn't know to get out of the rain,
and used to say  he preferred to sit under the flag
so he could do his work “under justice,”
looked at me different from then on
and didn’t want to  hang around my room during lunch
and, whether true or not,
I swear I saw him eyeing me each afternoon
as the cops escorted us to our cars which would take us home,
to a neighborhood safe for guys like us.
None of this makes me proud
but like the doctor I’d never grow up to be
I lived by the rule:  First, do no harm
and I figured none of what I did or didn’t would hurt them much,
especially compared to what living was bound to do.


Alan Walowitz has been published various places on the web and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in Queens, NY. Alan's chapbook Exactly Like Love is available from Osedax Press.

ELECTION: 2016

by Wendy Taylor Carlisle




They’re handing it out—whatever it is.
And we’re taking it—exile, house arrest,
a wall, mass deportations, the molded,
melded, stretched and excised truth.
I hear some are taking it and buying the hat.
We might as well paint the country alizarin.
Other names for alizarin are Mordant Red
and Turkey Red. We should certainly paint
the country alizarin. Eventually,
we will want to get back to forming our
days with our hands. We will be unable
to move our fingers. Then we will want
to hear the new lies, the small stories
of the worms’ triumph. It will be too late.
I tell myself, “don’t borrow trouble. We
still have months.” I tell myself “you
can move. A month is an augenblick,”
I tell myself “it can’t be that bad.”
I say “not here, it can’t happen here.” I wonder
where to live next. Taut faces surround me.
In every group, a mother who says,“hush,”
a mother who says “everything is fine.”
Around me, children are blown to mush.
I am a mother. Don’t we say dumb stuff?


Author’s gloss: augenblick—the blink of an eye

Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and write in the Ozarks. She is the author of two books and three chapbooks, most recently Persephone on the Metro. See her work in Concis, Rat’s Ass Review, Mom Egg Review, and the Kentucky Review.

Monday, September 26, 2016

ELECTION ANXIETY

by Susan Vespoli 




Swallow election anxiety
like tea;

feel its ant
hill teem, its nit

specks cling; watch it nix
your calm, axe

your peace, tie
you into a zillion tiny

knots, with no exit
so just breathe into the anxiety.


Susan Vespoli lives in Phoenix, AZ where she works a couple of jobs, writes poetry and prose, which has been published online and in  print. These days she is breathing heavily into election anxiety.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

READING WHILE BLACK

by Floyd Cheung



“. . . it remains unclear whether he was holding a gun or a book at the time he was shot.”  --Brian Flood for The Wrap, September 21, 2016


driving while black
            we know
reading while black
            also dangerous
how could it not be?
         
Narrative of the Life
            of Frederick Douglass
provides an account
            of resistance
with words and fists

Of Mice and Men
            a tale of friendship
dreams and desire
            in which euthanasia
is the best choice

I Know Why
            the Caged Bird Sings
why Maya becomes Mary
            why Maya
turns to poetry

Othello
            married to Desdemona
leader of an army
            betrayed by Iago
and himself

reading
            waiting
dreaming
            knowing
dangerous


Floyd Cheung has taught American literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, since 1999. His chapbook Jazz at Manzanar was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

POLLING

by Gil Hoy




I read on the internet today, on
Get US out! of the United Nations

That Barack Obama
supposedly said

we deserved 9/11 because
we didn’t respect Islam
we should not repeat that mistake

With a photograph of our black President
with 80 shares, 178 likes

With readers comments:

This Muslim does not
speak for me and my family.
What an asshole.

  Obummer is anti-AMERICAN!!!!!

           NO more muslims!!!
All must return to their homeland!!

Trump 42% Clinton 44%

I want to bang a hammer
on the world’s noisiest can,

I want to set off the world’s
loudest alarm.


Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer currently studying poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program where he had received a BA in Philosophy and Political Science. Hoy received an MA in Government from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as Brookline MA Selectman for 4 terms. Hoy's poetry appears or is upcoming in Right Hand Pointing-One Sentence Poems, The Potomac, Clark Street Review, TheNewVerse.News and The Penmen Review.

Friday, September 23, 2016

SUNDAYS IN THE PARK WITH DONALD

by George Salamon


"Yet it took Mr. Trump five years of dodging, winking and joking to surrender to reality, finally, on Friday, after a remarkable campaign of relentless deception that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president." —Michael Barbaro, The New York Times, September 16, 2016

Important men should be honored,
But they should not be believed.
So wrote a poet from Germany.
To give Trump his due, says this
Nattering nabob of doggerel,
Build him a statue in the park,
A place for pigeons to poop and
Shrine to his character.
Create hell of a hullabaloo
For talking airheads on TV.

Some of our presidents have been crooks,
Others just moral zeroes.
But now we really need heroes.
To ride up Capitol Hill.
Guess we'll have to make do
With Hillary and Bill.


George Salamon has turned from coverage of the campaign to reruns of M*A*S*H, but does not advise that you too do this at home. He lives in St. Louis, MO, often a blue pocket in a red state.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

STANDING ROCK RESISTANCE

by Akua Lezli Hope





Hey-ya Hey-ya Hey Hey O O

where is it that you go
cars stopped and searched
on their way to the gathering
where others sing and pray
land protectors, land protectors
sing and pray, police, police
stop intrusive machines
that churn holy ground
that plow the sacred into memory

Hey-ya Hey-ya  Hey Hey O O

gather all ye tribes to save
life water in North Dakota
Standing Rock Sioux
started in prayers in April
avert the threat to sacred earth
defend clean streams
at this end of the fossil fuel era
battle pipelines which burst
which quench an alien thirst for profit
trespass on treaty lands

Hey-ya Hey-ya  Hey Hey OO

a german shepherd pants with blood on his mouth
his nose drips with Indian blood
his handler yanks him this way and that
other dogs snap at horses’ legs which dance away
charge protectors, bite and wound
other handlers advance, spray the eyes
of protectors, mace Indian faces

Hey-ya Hey-ya  Hey Hey OO

come all defenders
stand by those whose land
has been blooded by slaughter
drowned by dams, washed away
confront the threat to who remains
from 17 banks, $3.8 billion
arrayed to transgress, to dig under rivers
dirty the clean, desecrate holy places,
intruders threading poisons
through the precious warp of earth
to steal again First People’s land

Hey-ya Hey-ya  Hey Hey OO

this is prayer ground
this is sacred water way
this is where First Peoples stand
this is where protectors stay.


Akua Lezli Hope is a creator who uses sound, words, fiber, glass, and metal, to create poems, patterns, stories, music, ornaments, adornments, and peace whenever possible. She has won fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Ragdale, Hurston Wright writers, and the National Endowment for The Arts.  She is a Cave Canem fellow. A crochet designer, she has published 114 patterns.  Her manuscript Them Gone won Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Editor’s Prize and will be published in fall, 2016.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

INSIDE THE BASKET OF DEPLORABLES

by Tanmoy Das Lala


“Basket of Deplorables” by Clay Jones, The Moderate Voice.

I.

When you read out loud
the label names, the items,
at first, writhe in shame, then
fume with rage, demand
apology next, then hiss—forking out
their scornful tongues,
multi-pronged, whetted sharp, yet
quick to cry at truths about themselves
they know not how to defend.

II.

Standing along the perimeter of
the basket’s woven toe,
the xenophobe seeks to exclude—
in the guise of security. Everyone,
a foe, barring the throng of people,
whose skins, since birth,
have worn the lucky color of snow.

III.

Each ingredient in the basket
is wrapped and tied
in translucent films
of bigotry. Their gloat
of communion stems not
from an accommodating lens
of salt-and-pepper subsistence,
but from salt alone. The pepper—
they do not care for.

IV.

Some residents of the basket
still seek to sway, that the Bible
alone can help, pray the gay away,
that who one can love is a choice
self-paving a heinous fate, and I—
the basket outsider, cling desperately
to the belief that someday love will trump hate.


Tanmoy Das Lala lives in New York City with his partner, Eric and a pea plant. His works have appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Thought Catalog and Chelsea Station Magazine.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

FRAGILE

by Edward A. Dougherty


A civil defence member carries an injured girl after an airstrike in the rebel-controlled city of Idlib, Syria. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah, September 17, 2016.


The ceasefire grows more fragile.

Nights now of shelling
after years of street fighting.

How can the resistance still resist?
Where do supplies come from?

Who cooks the rice, the lentils?
It’s not the ceasefire that’s fragile.

Who has lentils? Whose stove works?


Edward A. Dougherty teaches a Corning Community College, and is the author of Grace Street (Cayuga Lake Books, 2016), Everyday Objects (Plain View, 2015) and other collections of poetry.

Monday, September 19, 2016

CHILDHOOD'S END

by James Cronin


Cartoon by Cagle.

The illusion, that those in charge must know
what’s right and wrong, will fade at childhood’s end.
Dense swirls of gray, not black and white, will rend
us then, and those whose past we rest upon
be seen, like us, as flawed but dear, and so
we’ll pass, but such is not the world’s antiphon.
Its song for the alpha male lets monsters breed,
Hitler, Stalin, Mao, to name a few,
who murdered more than every breath they drew
and left a legacy of homicidal greed.

If murder will out, so too, it will go on
as Aleppo proves day to day; while in
North Korea, a gulag not a nation,
a murderous piglet—in a starving land
the double-chinned is king—wants a weapon
of world’s end to brandish in his fat hand.
At home, a smirking clown—anxious to please
Putin—sides with him on world woes; and more,
he’d tell that seated child, face veiled by gore,
he’s quarantined out as a subspecies.


After a four decade career in the law, James Cronin returned to his first love, literature. Since his judicial retirement in 2007, he has participated in three poetry groups and has served as a facilitator in numerous courses for a lifelong learning program in Fall River, MA.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

GAME OVER

by Devon Balwit





The ark has disappeared as we stand on the roofs of our
submerged Costcos, diapers and dog food bobbing about us
in bulk, the sky backlit by flames in the distant hills.

Babies in arms, we will be scanning for boats, old-style,
no GPS, the only place to stand where we are, squinting
against the glare, skin itching from tainted water.

We are the naysayers wanting to drive, water our lawns,
air condition, upgrade, happy as long as there was Wi-Fi
to keep us tucked snug in our virtual landscapes.

Now, this is it.  We are the zombies come from our own
screens, arms reaching from our dwindling real estate,
faces green at the knowledge of what we have become.


Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, OR.  Her work has appeared before in TheNewVerse.News.  She always scans the sky for portents.

Friday, September 16, 2016

ELECTION:2016

by Wendy Taylor Carlisle


Dora vs. Trump Cartoon by ELISE MCCOMB, age14, ROSEVILLE, MINN. (New York Times 2015 Cartoon Contest)


There are only seven plots, we’re told,
        and blunder is this world’s first and second.
                The desire for triumph shoulders at
                        the mother-belly of moral vacuity although,
                                mercifully, not quite hard enough to squeeze out
                                        yet. My friends who are conscientious objectors

or Buddhist, my friends who are in the intellectual closet,
                 even my apathetic friends are all
                         on Short Pierre Street waiting to see
                                 what happens. Because it has been so unbearable,
                                         we have borne it for 18 months—

the N words sprayed on one of our two city busses,
        the theories of corruption, actual corruption. And now,
                after arguing and lamentations, we are a chorus
                        of the damaged, counting their wounds, storing up
                                  experience for a later excuse to whine, Cabo,
                                         Toronto and stark survival on our minds.


Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and write in the Ozarks. She is the author of two books and three chapbooks, most recently Persephone on the Metro. See her work in Concis, Rat’s Ass Review, Mom Egg Review, and the Kentucky Review.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

AT THE FUNERAL OF A VIETNAM VETERAN

by Jimmy Pappas


Image source: Wounded Times


They did a study about veterans' suicides you know,
counted them and came up with an average: 22 per day.

Something like how many clowns can fit into a Volkswagen,
or how many hot dogs a person can eat without throwing up.

That's like saying, After you finish watching football today,
one veteran's going to blow his brains out, another one's going

to hang herself from the rafters if she can figure out
if she has any rafters to hang from in the first place.

The formality makes me want to put out a call for
the wailing women to gnash their teeth and tug at their hair.

The minister stands out from the crowd of leather-jacketed vets
with his tailor-made suit and conservatively perfect tie.

He quotes St. Paul, If God is for us, who can be against us?
to a group of men who have felt the whole world is against them.

Then he informs us that the prophet Isaiah believed God's
understanding is unsearchable, but I need an explanation of

why this soldier took every pill he could get his hands on. If he
did not want to be a burden, why do my shoulders feel so heavy?


Jimmy Pappas served for the Air Force in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 as an English language instructor. After his service, Jimmy received a Bachelor's of Arts degree from Bridgewater State University and a Master's  in English literature from Rivier University. He is a retired teacher whose poems have been published in many journals, including Yellowchair Review, New Verse News, Shot Glass Journal, Kentucky Review, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, The Ghazal Page, and War, Literature and the Arts. He is now a member of the executive board of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I AM FORGETTING HOW TO TELL STORIES

by Megan Merchant




“When you recognize the childrenand find the Mother,you will be free of sorrow.” —Tao

My son is in the backseat. He asks for a story on the way to school.
I begin with immortality because there are bullets and I started this
morning reading about the abduction of a little boy, how he was buried
in his red jacket. My son has a red jacket and when he spreads his arms,
he looks like a ladybug scrawling air. His stuck out of the dirt like a flag,
but I cannot tell you what happened before the boy died. It will calcify
the tenderest parts of you. I know.  His mother waited for twenty-seven years
believing, the whole time, that her son would be found and come home.
Every mother I know says, my baby, no matter how much time has passed.
Which is why I begin with immortality. I’m sure that she wrote his name
in black ink on the tag, quite certain it would be lost. Ensuring, when it did,
that it would be returned to her, with care.


Megan Merchant is mostly forthcoming. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (available now through Glass Lyre Press) The Dark’s Humming (Winner of the 2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, forthcoming 2017), four chapbooks and a forthcoming children’s book with Philomel Books. She lives in the tall pines of Prescott, Arizona and teaches Mindfulness & Meditation at Prescott College. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

AMBULANCE

by A.K. Das


A day after a tribal man had to walk 10 km carrying his wife’s body on his shoulder in Odisha’s Kalahandi (India) after failing to get a vehicle from a government hospital, a probe was ordered Thursday to ascertain the circumstances which led to the incident. Image source: The Indian Express, August 25, 2016.


The snow-white body, red beacon, siren
fitted on the top,
the ambulance waits at the hospital’s gate
for emergency calls.

A tribal man pedaling his pregnant daughter
to hospital, bringing back home
the mother and her newborn
again on his bicycle;

a poor laborer walking on foot,
dead body of his wife on his shoulder,
his little daughter following behind
in teary, stunned silence;

two men carrying on a dangling pole
a load of mangled, broken corpse
of a woman;

they all call frantically—
but no ambulance for them.

Yet the snow-white body, red beacon, siren
fitted on the top,
the ambulance waits patiently
at the hospital’s gate
for an emergency call from a VIP –

ready to move out,
speeding, blaring, flashing red light
through the snarling traffic.


A.K. Das, a retired civil servant in India, has had three books of poetry published: Another Voyage, Skyline Aglow, and Cherry Trifle.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A PANTOUM MORASS OF SOCIAL MORES

by Joe Amaral 

“He’s winning this. His critics are losing. We’re better for it.” —Tim Kawakami, The (San Jose) Mercury News, September 7, 2016. KHARTOON! by Khalid.


                                                for Colin Kaepernick


They sack their own hypocritical souls,
judging a biracial man sitting down between
Gatorade coolers, bench warmer, while
standing in safe zones chanting anthems.

Character assassinating a person-
hostile when their comfortable tedium
is knelt upon during an incomplete poem,
overheated, entwined in symbolic confliction.

Dislodged from routine surroundings, habits
of public conformity become glare and troll;
despite loafing when the flag waves on private
TV: bloviating from couches about abstract duty.

In my Catholic days I swung suffocating incense
before hearing the priest who married my parents
molested little boys. We spurned the cross in peace.
Pleas from true patriots are treated with violence.

Some only meme, righteous as sacramental fire
while buying foreign cars, clothes and smartphones
made by slave labor, then pout: THANKS OBAMA!
Colin audibles brave; to Hail Mary the fallow loam

of this country, as American as freedom can be, calling
to the knee-jerks and neutrals, even to the haters,
for a healing conversation amongst culpable toxicity—
warming a bench for enemies to connect, sit,
and see.


Joe Amaral likes to spelunk around the California central coast as a paramedic and stay-at-home dad. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in 3Elements Review, Arcadia Magazine, Crow Hollow 19, Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora, Zingara Poet and other awesome places. Joe won the 2014 Ingrid Reti Literary Award. He also hiked Mount Kilimanjaro. It was epic.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

MONTHS AFTER

by Alan Catlin




Months after
the towers came down
he sat an Upstate
New York bar
drinking lunch,

in town for business,
his friends teasing him,
“So were you one
of those guys we saw
on TV running away
as the second twin
came down?”

“Bet your ass
I was.”
He said.
Not smiling.
Not even vaguely
amused, as if he was
thinking, ”I could
have been one of those
human specks falling
down the side of
a building from
just-above-impact-
floor.”

“What would you
have done?  Hung out
to watch or stayed in
the lobby to see what
happened next?
I don’t think so.”

I didn’t either.


Alan Catlin is poetry editor of online journal misfitmagazine.net. His latest book of poetry is American Odyssey from Future Cycle Press.

EAST THIRTEENTH STREET

by Terese Coe




Eventually he touched upon what she meant to him, not in so many words. In New York on 9-11 she walked the two miles crosstown to his apartment. They needed each other now. No other friends in walking distance. No transportation. Everything had stopped. The city was silent. He had tv news on. They sat on the couch the entire day, transfixed. Soon she could no longer speak. He didn’t see why. Asked her soberly,        

            Are you in shock?
            No, I’m not in shock.
            Why aren’t you talking?
            There’s nothing to say.

He looked at her as if he didn’t understand. He’d been talking to Bob on the phone. She said it more intently, so he’d know.
         
            There’s nothing anyone can say.

His silence may have been a form of agreement. It did not persist.


Terese Coe’s poems and translations have appeared in 32 Poems, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Cincinnati Review, New American Writing, Ploughshares, Poetry, Threepenny Review, Agenda, The Moth, New Walk Magazine, New Writing Scotland, Poetry Review, the TLS, The Stinging Fly, and many other publications and anthologies. Her latest collection is Shot Silk.

AT CENTURY 21

by Rick Mullin


Image source: drjudywood.com



It happened. And the man in front of me

exploded straight up off the street, a mile

high. Many things seemed similarly

amplified. A woman cried as all

the contents of her briefcase scattered

over Dey Street. I assume she worked

in Tower One and would have made it in

by 9. And then the transit cruiser parked

on Broadway hit its lights and faded in-

to smoke and mirrors and a sense that mattered 

more than any rational surmise.

A shadow stream. Outrageous hip hop sneakers

rocketing. I saw the clearest skies

rain paper as a fire at the farthest reaches

closed a ring on everything that shattered.


Rick Mullin's new poetry collection is Stignatz & the User of Vicenza.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

ANGEL OF ALEPPO

by Orel Protopopescu


Khaled Omar Harrah, a volunteer rescuer who spent nearly three years rushing to the scenes of airstrikes and barrel bombs to save lives, has been killed in the embattled city of Aleppo. The Syrian Civil Defense Force, also known as the White Helmets, tweeted remembrances of Harrah, calling him a "true hero" who saved "countless lives." A spokesman for the search-and-rescue group told CNN that he was killed during an airstrike, and was "with other members of his team helping people trapped in rubble." —NPR, August 13, 2016

“Only the dead see the end of war.”—Graffiti on a wall of the ruined Darul Aman Palace, Kabul

How long can angels keep dancing
on the head of a tyrant?

Photos of wounded children can’t stop bombs,
though the soft steel of their eyes
penetrates the thickest armor.

Under the halo of his white helmet,
Khaled Omar Harrah dug through
rubble, through five stories,
untellable stories, compressed,
an illegible album that he opened,
after sixteen hours,
to pull from a hole,
from out of the womb of war,
the best story of the day—
a live child, ten days old,
covered in fine, white powder
like a loaf of bread
for the world to digest.

Where helmets are targets,
to link wings with other angels
can bring down rains that burn.
Yet Khaled refused, in New York,
the false Paradise of exile.
Running toward the sounds
of thousands of explosions,
he sought the cracks
where his light could shine.

Death dropped from the sky
on this relentless angel—
husband, father of two daughters,
a painter by trade—
who had no need to seek martyrdom
by exploding the gates of Paradise.
He knew they were light as eyelids
and could be opened with a smile.

Now those splintered gates
scream on rusty hinges.


Orel Protopopescu, children’s author, translator and poet, has been published by major houses (Simon&Schuster, FSG, Scholastic) and her book of translations, A Thousand Peaks, Poems from China (with Siyu Liu) was honored by the New York Public Library. Orel won the Oberon poetry prize in 2010. What Remains, a chapbook (2011) followed. Thelonious Mouse, her fourth picture book, won a Crystal Kite, 2012, from SCBWI.  A Word’s a Bird, her animated, bilingual (English/French) poetry book for iPad, was on SLJ’s list of ten best children’s apps, 2013. Her poetry has appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Light, Lighten Up Online, and other reviews and anthologies.

Friday, September 09, 2016

LAMENTATION

by David Radavich



Is Putin on the "Trump Train"? —Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune, July 28, 2016.


For Donald


I am hearing the dirge
of my people.

The sound gets louder
and louder, like a train
approaching a station

which has been waiting
and waiting
as an eager slave.

Soon all the passengers
will board and slowly

the landscape will pass
by windows waving
at amber grain.

I stand at the crossing
with torn eyes.

I remember when
the country rose in wings
and did not hope
for engines

hard on
their dark way.


David Radavich's most recent poetry collections are The Countries We Live In (2014) and a co-edited volume called Magic Again: Selected Poems on Thomas Wolfe (2016).  His plays have been performed across the U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway, and in Europe.  He has published a variety of articles and is current president of the North Carolina Poetry Society.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

THE FIGURE IN THE TOAST BURNT FOIL

by Alejandro Escudé





The shooter was hiding in the gleam
of a trashcan lid—he held the gun close
to his chest and sped from lid to lid
across international terminals.

They dropped their bags and ran
looking back for the coil of a black flag,
Arabic scroll, a figure in the toast burnt foil
as night broke among the neon columns.

The human mind is a spider slipping
off wet shower curtains, the heart,
a hundred hounds howling, the feet
like eighteen feet, the neck hacked
by Jihadi John in the military dawn.

No all clear on the horizon, more shots
heard from the coin-din of the airport
where the forest of propeller blades meet
the lost baggage mountains, a river rippling
where a tiger stalks the naked prisoner.


Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems, My Earthbound Eye, in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

BLOOD ON THE DOG'S MOUTH

by Laura Lee Washburn





After dinner we have cherry pie.
We are four people from three continents.

The pie: thick with red, butter
crusted: we are sure some old woman made it.

My friends say French and German words
with some ease.  Cherries burst under forks.

We drink tall glasses of iced tea
made with cool water from the kitchen tap.

We have come to live on the plains.
The town festival with a European name offers pie today.

George Washington, cherry pie, pure
dumb luck to be born in this country, and deliberate movements.

What must you be born to
to go out on the land against the oil machine?

You must love the water like life
to tie yourself to the digging machine that doesn’t stop

even with thin court orders.  You must
know the earth is not yours to give while others

train dogs to tear at strangers, loose dogs trained
to tear human skin.

The blood on the dogs’ mouths is human blood.

All over America while folks sit down to dinner,
the blood on the dogs’ mouths is the human blood of water protectors.

Breathe through your nose not your mouth.
[Cry liiiiiiii if you still have the bloody red heart to cry it.]
#nodapl


Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Apple Valley Review, Whale Road Review, Ninth Letter, The Sun, OccuPoetry, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

ELEGY

by Sarah Russell




The first time,
a wasp's angry sting
is no big deal.

Then whoa!  I start to itch,
hives, welts even in my nose
and mouth, tongue swells,
I flail, gasp, lungs fill,
drowning.  Then

neitherherenorthere,
people waltz slow mo,
voices echo, fade.

It's been nice, I think.
Nice.

In Canada, EpiPens cost ten bucks
if you can get there before you die.


Sarah Russell has returned to poetry after a career teaching, writing and editing academic prose. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Kentucky Review, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, TheNewVerse.News, and Shot Glass Journal, among others. Her poem “Denouement” won the Goodreads poetry contest.

Monday, September 05, 2016

WHAT REMAINS

by Jennifer Hernandez


Jacob Wetterling's mother Patty said the remains of her son have been found. "Our hearts are broken. I am not responding to any media yet as I have no words," Patty Wetterling wrote in a text message to KARE 11. The Stearns County, Minnesota Sheriff's Office confirmed that Jacob Wetterling's remains had been located. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner and a forensic odontologist identified the remains as Wetterling's Saturday morning. . . . The disappearance of Jacob remains one of the highest-profile child abduction cases in U.S. history. Wetterling was 11 when he was abducted by a masked man with a gun on Oct. 22, 1989, in St. Joseph, Minn. —MPR News, September 3, 2016. Above: Patty and Jerry Wetterling show a photo of their son Jacob. Photograph: Craig Lassig/AP via The Guardian, September 4, 2016.

We’ve been living with Jacob
for twenty-seven years
since he disappeared
from that stretch
of deserted country road.

I was in college then,
160 miles northwest on I-94,
didn’t watch much TV
or read the newspapers,
but I knew about Jacob.

Saw his smile on billboards,
milk cartons, the sides of semis.
My brother was fourteen that fall.
Did my mom’s gut clench then
like mine does now?

I am the mother of three boys.
The youngest, eleven,
Jacob’s age in October 1989.
We learned about monsters,
those of us who grew up with Jacob.

No free-range parenting for us.
I watched my boys like a hawk
even on the dead-end street
in front of my suburban home.
Probably I watched too much.

I would not lose those pieces
of my heart. Patty Wetterling—
I hope you know that we, the mothers,
are with you. We carry Jacob on our shoulders,
in our hearts. You say you don’t have words.

We cannot begin to fathom.


Jennifer Hernandez, Minnesota teacher and writer, has performed her poetry at a non-profit garage, a taxidermy-filled bike shop, and in the kitchen for her children. Her recent work has appeared in Minnesota Women’s Press, Mothers Always Write and Silver Birch Press, as well as Bird Float, Tree Song (Silverton Books) and A Prince Tribute (Yellow Chair Press).

Sunday, September 04, 2016

TWO LITTLE POEMS FOR TWO LITTLE CHICAGO GIRLS

by William Marr



Black Eyed Peas have joined forces once again to revamp their 2003 hit "Where Is the Love?" Sales from the new version of the track will go to the i.am.angel foundation, a non-profit founded by will.i.am with the goal of "transforming lives through education, inspiration and opportunity."


MENARCHE
       
Stumbling on a bumpy sidewalk
a little girl was hit by a stray bullet

Blood gushed from her immature body
Her stiffening mouth had yet to ask girlish questions
of her wailing mother


HOPSCOTCH

Standing in the way
of a bullet’s joyflight
another little girl fell
on a blood-stained pavement

A triumphant smile
crossed her twisted face
as she finally managed
to plant both feet
neatly
in the chalked squares


William Marr has published 23 volumes of poetry (3 in English and the rest in his native Chinese language), 3 books of essays and several books of translations. His most recent book, Chicago Serenade, a trilingual (Chinese/English/French) poetry anthology, was published in Paris in 2015. His poetry has been translated into more than ten languages and included in over one hundred anthologies. Some of his poems are used in high school and college textbooks in Taiwan, China, England, and Germany.  He is a former president of the Illinois State Poetry Society and has received numerous awards, including three from Taiwan for his poetry and translations.  A PhD recipient and a retired research engineer, he now resides in a Chicago suburb.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

BULLY PULPIT

by Mary Saracino
Cartoon by Steve Sack, Star-Tribune, August 31, 2016

"Wednesday gave Donald Trump the best of both worlds; a priceless photo-op with a foreign leader and maximum attention on his firebrand immigration message."—Jake Novak, senior columnist for CNBC, September 1, 2016.

The man on the mountaintop
spews lies, misinformation, intolerance
a nefarious Rumpelstiltskin
he spins bigotry and bullying into gold
his cheering minions listen,
eyes wide open, palms itching for more
believers who think his poison is truth
his empty promises a balm for all their ails
a fix for all the ways that life has failed them
they cheer him on, flanked by the media who know better,
the ones who give him a bully pulpit under the guise of objectivity
who dance with the devil to sell air time, ad space
as they profit from the hate they feign to shun


Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet, and memoir writer who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her most recent novel is Heretics: A Love Story (Pearlsong Press, 2014). Her novel The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press, 2006) was a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist.  She is the co-editor (with Mary Beth Moser) of She Is Everywhere! Volume 3: An anthology of writings in womanist/feminist spirituality (iUniverse 2012). Mary’s poetry and stories (creative nonfiction and fiction) have been widely published in a variety of literary and cultural journals and anthologies, both online and in print.

Friday, September 02, 2016

A LAST LAB REPORT

by Steven Deutsch
Burning Earth source: WallpaperFolder; Lab Report source: Jimmie at flickr.


Set the planet to simmer,
with the ordinary hubbub
of some seven billion lives.
Add the ordered activity
of the supporting cast,
plankton to pachyderms.
Then factor in the geologic—
those generous memories
from an ancient past.

Now, cover gently
with the exhalation
of industrial waste.
Measure often as you wait,
so men of stature
may use the numbers
to cudgel those across an aisle
created for the purpose
of disagreeing.

For your report,
use a lined notebook--
the kind recommended
for second graders
practicing penmanship
in the long ago of future,
and record the changes
that astound and horrify
for the next few hundred years.

No need to turn in your assignment.
In time, the pages of your history
will curl, and brown, and burn.


Steve Deutsch is a retired practitioner of fluid mechanics, as applied to mechanical hearts and heart valves.  He lives with his wife, a visual artist, in State College, Pennsylvania.  He is responsible for the blog: stevieslaw@wordpress.com and has published short fiction and poetry, most recently in Misfit Magazine, One-Sentence Poems, and at Silver Birch Press.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

ON THE BATTLE AND THE RACE

by Rick Mullin




Do you not think an Angel rides in the Whirlwind 
and directs this Storm?—from a letter written to Thomas Jefferson by John Page, July 20, 1776,
quoted by George W. Bush in his first inaugural address, January 20, 2001.

How is the Angel in the Whirlwind fixed
for drumheads come November? Isn’t she
supposed to show us something bright betwixt
the mountain and the river? Pardon me,
but aren’t we all endowed with intuition
in our human state? The crystal liver
of the Angel in the Whirlwind waits
for a replacement on a frozen river-
bank in Pennsylvania. She hates
when she’s strung out in this position.
Once the Angel in the Whirlwind was
in charge and teleology in vogue.
But now, the latest polls get all the buzz.
The drummers and the general go rogue
and disavow the shock of recognition.


Rick Mullin's new poetry collection is Stignatz & the User of Vicenza.